Solution Focused Therapy versus Narrative Therapy

Solution Focused Therapy versus Narrative Therapy


Family therapy is a branch of psychotherapy dealing with couples in intimate relationship and their families aimed at nurturing change and development with continuous interaction among family members emphasizing their relationship as influential in their psychological health. This paper compares two family therapy models, which is the cognitive behavioral therapy versus narrative therapy, creating an insight of some major similarities and differences on their view to the subject.

Solution Focused Therapy versus Narrative Therapy

Solution focused therapy (SFT) model is a talking therapy based on social constructionist philosophy. Usually oriented on the goal the client want to achieve through the process of therapy, but not the historical problems that may lead them to seek for help. The therapist seek to invite the clients envision their ideal future using respectful curiosity with questions about the clients’ story, resources and strengths to client-perceived problem. In SFT, therapist support clients in identifying the times when events matched their preferred future in their life by examining the two different occasions and support them repeat those their successful moments’ behaviors when out of problem (Becvar & Becvar, 2008). On the other hand, narrative therapy is a therapeutic approach that uses narratives and holds that those stories or narratives primarily shape individuals’ identities whether culturally general or uniquely personal. The technique assumes problematic groups and individuals imply domination of problem-saturated stories (Winslade & Monk, 2000). Narrative therapists collaborate with the clients to help them conceptualize a non-essential identity and generate experimental descriptions of life allowing an individual to engage in constructing and performing of preferred identity.

The two family therapy approaches have a significant overlap that on surface make them look similar to one another. First commonality is that, regardless of the problem basis either individual or family, the responsibility for change of the problem and its impetus lie within the family but not the individual since the key concept is that nobody operates or exists in a vacuum. Secondly, the two approaches view relationships, even at work place and community as a system and the family as the central unit to that society that mainspring human potential, implying that all problems have an origin from different families (Schacter, Gilbert, & Wegner, 2010). Both solutions focused and narrative therapies encourage the clients to think a bit different about their world, holding that positive self-narratives and positive thoughts have an impact determinant on their emotions, behavior, and overall quality of life whilst negative and self-defeating thoughts have detrimental effect. SFT and narrative practitioners usually model their approach alongside the Socratic questions in assisting client discovers new reality.

Conversely, there lay distinct differences between the two approaches with first considering their backgrounds within which the form of therapy technique adopts. SFT model adopts modern strategies of Solution Focused Brief Therapy and Milton Erickson’s hypnotherapy, whereas narrative therapy background changes from the psychodynamic of Freudian theories to feminist narratives of Marxist critical theories. These backgrounds are evidence to the expert SFT approach, which is a systematic question answer versus collaborative narrative therapist approach (Schacter, Gilbert, & Wegner, 2010). Secondly, when narrative therapy has its basis on hypothesis that narration gives the patient an insight on their life protagonists at the present, solution-focused therapy has its focus on preferred future of the client.

Narrative therapy has shown to work well in managing couples’ disputes and cases of divorce or separation. This may fall from an event when one infidelity, loss of job, or one failed to succeed in an event and attribute the failure to have resulted from his/her partner. In a couple, the process aims at providing an environment for flourishing values and respect, rather than to revert to demeaning behaviors. Therapist guides the partners through the narrative to realize the embedding differences and lead them to separating their problems from the individual. The technique set a stage for positive interaction and transfer of negative communication into a more non-judgmental, meaningful, and accepting exchanges. The benefits of this therapeutic approach are that couples are provided with an insight when they reveal their maladaptive behavior through challenging their prior conceptions to illuminate one’s life. On the other hand, there are limitations to the process as it is qualitative without researched congruent findings to support its efficacy (Winslade & Monk, 2000). Again, parties in relationship are not provided with a specific method of solving their problem in future if the same reoccurs because solutions aims at what immediately affecting the couple and may lack a follow up.

To avoid a divorce case, it is important for couple to seek for mental health professional practicing solution focused couples counseling. The couples devise practical problem focused solution to meet each other’s needs, which is made possible by an assumption that one places their needs on par with those of the other. The process involves at least some steps, starting by focusing on what the couple wants to be different; they describe desired outcomes with results already realized. Again, therapist wants to know when successful results were realized to find a way forward monitor for achievement making for further change (Becvar & Becvar, 2008). SFT has an advantage that therapy work faster than most other approaches with the clients more satisfied with each other and the process. However, there are limitations of the process where the partners may victimize one another and the process does not change the facts of the situation but only change the psychological notion of the clients.  


Becvar, D., & Becvar, R. (2008). Family therapy: A systemic integration. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Schacter, D. L., Gilbert, D. T., & Wegner, D. M. (2010). Psychology. 2nd ed. New York: Worth Pub.

Winslade, J., & Monk, G. (2000). Narrative Mediation: A New Approach to Conflict Resolution. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0-7879-4192-1.

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